General Website Queries: 2018 Onward

Questions: I don't follow the requests for merging threads closely, but I've long been curious. Are all or most requests for merging topics granted? Or is the step of merging topics the exception not the rule? Is there internal mod debate about each merging, or is it a situation of "first mod up makes the call"?

Working in a library, where there is serious OCC about how things are organized, I'm often surprised by how often books straddle multiple topics, and how somebody somewhere in the chain of creating the bibliographic record determines how a book gets catalogued. Depending on cataloger whim, a theoretical book on Vlad Tepes in the Library Of Congress classification system could wind up in call number C (biography), D (World History), G (anthropology, folklore), J (political science), or U (military science). Often a Vlad-based book will have elements of all of those things in different proportion, so there is often an element of personal decision-making about placement in LOC.

With that outlook, I worry that sometimes posts or topics are merged because they fit a specific poster's (or mod's) personal idea of where they should be connected, even if there is no true consensus about connecting said items. Organization should happen, but as an occasional antidote for too much merging, can topics also be requested to be broken out of large amorphous threads where they languish forgotten, assuming the mods agree that the topic should stand on it's own?
 
Questions: I don't follow the requests for merging threads closely, but I've long been curious. Are all or most requests for merging topics granted? Or is the step of merging topics the exception not the rule? Is there internal mod debate about each merging, or is it a situation of "first mod up makes the call"?

There are a lot of points to address, so I'll try to be concise.

1) No, not all requests are granted. I have no figures, but I'd say 60-70% are. The crucial caveat is that we don't get that many requests.

2) The number of requested threads merged is certainly outnumbered by the number of threads moderators merge of their own volition without a request from a member.

3) With reference to responding to requests, now @EnolaGaia has gone, it's usually me making the call and performing the task.

4) I confer with other moderators in our virtual lounge if I am unsure, but in about 80% of cases I decide alone.

5) The vast majority of requests for merges come from half a dozen long-standing members. The thread itself will indicate who, but @ramonmercado and @Frideswide contribute a lot, and having both acted as moderators previously, their instincts are usually correct.

6) The single most common reason for not approving a request—and @Stuneville has stressed this to us—is that superficially similar thread titles needn't indicate a similar discussion. We are happy to sustain distinct discussions of a single subject, provided those threads are sufficiently distinct in 'approach'; which is to say, the instinct is not to throw all threads that mention, say, haunted castles together. A former moderator who will remain nameless had a fetish for this. @EnolaGaia spent days disentangling some of them.

These decisions are certainly subjective, but the general criterion is to ask whether a) we are looking at sufficiently separate cases of one phenomenon (are there significant divisions of time, location, subject or experience?), and b) whether the method of analysis, heuristic or actual physical tools being employed to consider an 'old case' are sufficiently novel. At the practical end, we do tend to merge anyway if a thread is novel but garnered few contributions and is very short.

7) The most common case of 'maintaining distinction' is the IHTM (It Happened To Me) Section. Very, very few of these threads have been merged.

Reasoning:
  • They are distinct reports.
  • They invite feedback and responses to and from the original posters.
  • Doing this encourages new posters by giving them 'their own' thread and not prejudicially treating the peculiarities of their own experience as essentially variations on a theme.
  • Owing to the increased interaction, the best of these threads take on a very distinct character of their own, a character that risks being diluted when mixed with other more jejune exchanges.
Crucially, although we can cut and paste and merge and separate like a whizzed-up Frankenstein, we are powerless to change the order of posts; whatever we do, the posts will appear in strictly chronological order.

If two threads that are active at the same time are merged, posts 121, 122 and 123 in Thread A may now appear between posts 76 and 77 on Thread B. If posters have not been fastidious about quoting the post they are responding to (which doesn't appear necessary when it's clearly 'the post above'), then the new thread can be very hard to follow once new posts interpose. It's possible to check for this before merging with quite short threads, but long threads are impossible. For this reason, it is undesirable to merge two very large threads.

Hope this sheds some light.
 
I'll just add that not all requests to merge are publically visible - people PM Mods with them. My feeling is that it;'s these that tend not to be actioned, possibly the originator wasn't convinced which is why they didn't post it publically? It's not a Mod bias against being contacted directly!

So when looking at the proportion of suggestions which are actioned, there is a whole set of invisible ones which aren't actioned. Perceptions may be off :)
 
I'll just add that not all requests to merge are publically visible - people PM Mods with them. My feeling is that it;'s these that tend not to be actioned, possibly the originator wasn't convinced which is why they didn't post it publically? It's not a Mod bias against being contacted directly!

So when looking at the proportion of suggestions which are actioned, there is a whole set of invisible ones which aren't actioned. Perceptions may be off :)

Good point.
 
Thanks for the quick and thoroughly reasoned explanation that clears it up for me! Your bit here:
We are happy to sustain distinct discussions of a single subject, provided those threads are sufficiently distinct in 'approach'; which is to say, the instinct is not to throw all threads that mention, say, haunted castles together. A former moderator who will remain nameless had a fetish for this.
... dings a memory of a time where it seemed like every post was being condensed... fortunately I've not seen anything like that in a long time.
 
Blimey, a flashback there to Ealing school of Librarianship. Facets and foci of subjects Sears list of subject headings, Shiyali Ranganathan etc. It was hard enough with books but impossible with postings, I'd guess.

The search terms that are being added to the threads by Yith and the mods should make searching for a subject easier but merging threads so that the conversations and replies make some sort of sense can't be easy if they've been separate for a while.
 
Blimey, a flashback there to Ealing school of Librarianship. Facets and foci of subjects Sears list of subject headings, Shiyali Ranganathan etc. It was hard enough with books but impossible with postings, I'd guess.

The search terms that are being added to the threads by Yith and the mods should make searching for a subject easier but merging threads so that the conversations and replies make some sort of sense can't be easy if they've been separate for a while.

It's worth noting that although there's not enough there yet, you can search TAGS specifically here:

https://forums.forteana.org/index.php?tags/

They are already factored into general searches.
 
Sorry but....'proofing' for you.
These decisions are certainly subjective, but the general criterion is to ask whether a) we are looking at sufficiently separate cases of one pheonmenon (are their significant divisions of time, location, subject or experience?), and b) whether the method of analysis, heuristic or actual physicsl
...phenomenon/phenomena, there, and physical.
 
Hang on, I thought we agreed on whether or not we should merge a thread by checking the inards of a sacrificed animal?

Yith is right he does most of it and I should try and take some of that off his shoulders but to be honest I'm still scared I will delete both threads!
 
Questions: I don't follow the requests for merging threads closely, but I've long been curious. Are all or most requests for merging topics granted? Or is the step of merging topics the exception not the rule? Is there internal mod debate about each merging, or is it a situation of "first mod up makes the call"?

Working in a library, where there is serious OCC about how things are organized, I'm often surprised by how often books straddle multiple topics, and how somebody somewhere in the chain of creating the bibliographic record determines how a book gets catalogued. Depending on cataloger whim, a theoretical book on Vlad Tepes in the Library Of Congress classification system could wind up in call number C (biography), D (World History), G (anthropology, folklore), J (political science), or U (military science). Often a Vlad-based book will have elements of all of those things in different proportion, so there is often an element of personal decision-making about placement in LOC.

With that outlook, I worry that sometimes posts or topics are merged because they fit a specific poster's (or mod's) personal idea of where they should be connected, even if there is no true consensus about connecting said items. Organization should happen, but as an occasional antidote for too much merging, can topics also be requested to be broken out of large amorphous threads where they languish forgotten, assuming the mods agree that the topic should stand on it's own?
I imagine it's only the ones where the sweeties are hidden behind that they don't mess about with!
 
Posts have been moved or deleted from this thread. The explanation was pre-emptively given on the Good Posting Practices thread.

I repeat it here:


@Trevp666 Mods are agreed: continue to whinge about racism and you're banned.
Just for clarity, Trev was not being racist in any form.

He was simply telling a story about a man (Brandon Jackson) who had been locked out of his amazon account because an amazon delivery driver thought he had heard a racist comment coming from Jackson's doorbell (when there was no one even in the house at the time).

The delivery driver was wearing headphones at the time so it's not clear whether he misinterpreted the message from the doorbell.

Both Jackson and the delivery driver are African American.
 
Thanks.

Valuable contribution.

I was typing on a subway train at 10:30 p.m. Do I not get a break? Typos now corrected.
I admire your fortitude and dedication.
 
As far as I know, they are.

The board does periodic recounts for everything, so the display may not update in real time.

Interesting. I haven't posted much recently (life's been very busy) but I noticed I was on 666 posts so I posted in The Troll's Head about it (on 24th June) yet my post count did not go up. When I came back online yesterday I found it was still 666, and when I posted in another thread in chat it remained at 666. After posting on this thread, it went up to 667 and further posts in chat haven't shifted that number. It's not important, just rather curious. If it's not counting posts in chat, other than the time lag you mentioned, I'm guessing it might be due to the fact it's a private section of the site.
 
Interesting. I haven't posted much recently (life's been very busy) but I noticed I was on 666 posts so I posted in The Troll's Head about it (on 24th June) yet my post count did not go up. When I came back online yesterday I found it was still 666, and when I posted in another thread in chat it remained at 666. After posting on this thread, it went up to 667 and further posts in chat haven't shifted that number. It's not important, just rather curious. If it's not counting posts in chat, other than the time lag you mentioned, I'm guessing it might be due to the fact it's a private section of the site.

Then you could be right.

I could find no option behind the curtain to specify what the 'post count' counts, but I was not the one who implemented the change.

@EnolaGaia set it up, and sadly he's not around to answer.

EDIT: Ignore the above. Found it. CHAT has been set not to contribute to members' post counts. This is a change from what was the case and I wasn't aware of it. Apologies for the misleading replies.

Interestingly, CHAT has also been set not to allow external bots and search engines to index its contents, which is a very good idea.
 
I've just posted three times in chat, no change to count, once in the main part of the site and an instant change to my number count. So it looks as if chat posts are not counted, will keep an eye open to confirm.
 
Hi :) if I want to tag the Moderators of our fine forums to point out an issue, or suggest a post/thread move what name should I use?

@Mods
@Moderators ?

or something else! TIA (kissy kissy)
 
Hi :) if I want to tag the Moderators of our fine forums to point out an issue, or suggest a post/thread move what name should I use?

@Mods
@Moderators ?

or something else! TIA (kissy kissy)
Hi

You can use our individual names or use the report button at the bottom left of the post.

Gordon
 
I have a Q!

Is there a way to donate towards the running costs of this fine discussion forum, or to treat the moderators to a cup of coffee/tea/non-caffeinated beverage of their choice?

And if there is a way, could it posted somewhere so we could all chip in, if so desired?

Many thanks :)
 
I have a Q!

Is there a way to donate towards the running costs of this fine discussion forum, or to treat the moderators to a cup of coffee/tea/non-caffeinated beverage of their choice?

And if there is a way, could it posted somewhere so we could all chip in, if so desired?

Many thanks :)

I know a man with an answer to this very question @gordonrutter
 
I have a Q!

Is there a way to donate towards the running costs of this fine discussion forum, or to treat the moderators to a cup of coffee/tea/non-caffeinated beverage of their choice?

And if there is a way, could it posted somewhere so we could all chip in, if so desired?

Many thanks :)
Thank you.

Donations can be made through Paypal via the following email address

charlesfortinstitute@gmail.com

Thank you

Gordon
 
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